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Clint Eastwood

‘A Perfect World’: Clint Eastwood’s Most Underrated Movie.

The 1993 film is among Eastwood’s best directorial efforts.

At 91 years old, Clint Eastwood continues to be one of Hollywood’s most prolific directors. Eastwood often puts projects together quickly; Richard Jewell began filming in June and hit its December release date, and less than a year later he was back behind and in front of the camera for his latest feature Cry Macho. While Eastwood has teased that Cry Macho may be his closing chapter, it’s anyone’s guess if he’ll follow through with that promise or find another story that sparks his interest.

Compared to his other work, 1993’s A Perfect World is somewhat of an anomaly. Eastwood has nearly forty directorial credits to his name and gravitates towards westerns, action films, and thrillers. Based on the premise alone, A Perfect World sounds like it’s right up Eastwood’s alley. Set in Texas in 1963, the film follows escaped convict Butch Haynes (Kevin Costner), who takes an eight-year-old child named Phillip (T. J. Lowther) hostage while fleeing authorities.

Regret and destiny are themes Eastwood frequently explores, yet A Perfect World is among the most tragic and surprisingly unsentimental films of his career. Phillip isn’t utilized to soften the heart of the gruff Butch, nor is Phillip empowered by the dangerous experience. It’s a film about trauma that doesn’t heal; Phillip and Butch are able to momentarily bond while discussing their pasts, but their realities don’t change as a result.

As Butch travels with the boy towards an escape route in New Mexico, he’s steadily impressed by his captive’s inventiveness. Phillip steals a ghost costume, but it’s not framed as a cutesy moment. Rather, he’s shown a disregard for civility reminiscent of the man he just watched kill his own partner.

Phillip was raised in a Jehovah’s Witness community by his mother and sisters, and Butch gives him a broader worldview. His naivete isn’t exaggerated; there are more blatant aspects of childhood that Butch is surprised to learn Phillip knows nothing about (such as Christmas or Halloween celebrations), but he’s also secluded from developing self-respect. When Hayne encourages Phillip to have confidence after the boy reveals he’s been bullied, it’s not positioned as an out-of-character moment of kindness on Butch’s behalf. The words of encouragement come as a surprise, and the scene is more tragic in revealing Phillip’s self-loathing than they are a charming moment of bonding.

Butch’s growing interest in Phillip’s development are strengthened as he reveals his own troubled childhood. Fleeing his violent father, Butch had already developed a reputation by the time he was a teenager and served a full sentence after being denied juvenile prison. Butch’s supportive words of Phillip are tragically ironic; they’re an attempt at replicating a father-son relationship he never had, even if he knows it isn’t sustainable.

While Phillip takes Butch’s lessons about right and wrong to heart, he also learns that his new father figure often doesn’t follow his own rules. As the pair hides at a ranch New Mexico, Butch becomes angered witnessing the violent outbursts that the owner Mack (Wayne Dehart) inflicts upon his wife. Butch threatens to kill him, and Phillip is forced to evaluate the situation in a split second. Is Butch justified, and would Mack’s death even resolve the situation? These aren’t questions an eight-year-old should have to consider, let alone bear responsibility for, but in the tense face off, Phillip is forced to be the voice of reason.

Eastwood casts himself as Texas Ranger Red Garnett, who aims to capture Butch alive before he sparks a conflict with other pursuing authorities. Garnett’s motivation in aprehending Butch is personal, as its revealed that he was the arresting officer that detained Garnett in his youth. Butch is unaware of the connection, but its a decision that haunts Garnett. While he thought that forcing Butch to see the consequences of his actions would’ve spared him of his abusive father, he realizes that it only hardened Butch’s outlook.

Eastwood frequently casts himself in the lead, but he’s equally effective in a supporting role. Garnett is far different than a character like Unforgiven’s Will Munny, as he’s not an evil man trying to redeem a life of hatred, but rather a career lawman regretting a misconstrued attempt at giving Butch a way out. Eastwood is terrific playing internalized guilt, as Garnett only gradually reveals his motivations to criminologist Sally Gerber (Laura Dern). While the film builds towards their confrontation, they don’t share words; Butch never learns of the man who sealed his fate, and Garnett never gets the chance to voice his apology.

Eastwood is no stranger to long runtimes, but A Perfect World’s 138 minutes don’t feel excessive. The suspenseful sequences are realistic; when Butch’s partner Terry Pugh (Keith Szarabajka) threatens to kill him, they discuss their options over an extended conversation. The two aggressive men have reason enough to hate each other, as they only escaped together out of necessity, but both understand the value in mapping an escape together. That Terry’s death only comes after he threatens Phillip is a great character building moment for Butch; he’s willing to risk his own future to protect Phillip in the film’s first true act of selflessness.

Although tension steadily mounts as Garnett follows Butch’s trail, the climax is more of an inevitability than it is the conclusion of a relentless chase. Butch’s death comes through another mischaracterized act of kindness; choosing to spend a few fleeting moments with Phillip, a simple gift is misinterpreted as a weapon by a triggerhappy sniper. In this moment all the characters see their “perfect world” slip away; Garnett loses his chance to confess to Butch, Phillip is doomed to return to his religious upbrining, and Butch loses his life after showing his benevolence. While he’s known for his lack of storyboarding and minimal camera setups, Eastwood’s meticulous approach to conflict in A Perfect World’s tragedy makes it more effective.

Eastwood is known for his hypermasculine characters, but A Perfect World is perhaps his best film about masculinity, as its trio of traumatized men are all punished for showing sensitivity. Eastwood’s films are frequently under fire for their political baggage, but A Perfect World doesn’t lionize its characters or offer an easy solution. It presents a slice of reality, and the flawed characters forced to inhabit it.

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Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood ‘Treats His Actors Like Horses,’ According to Tom Hanks

Clint Eastwood is a dominating yet somewhat stoic force that has dominated the entertainment world for over 60 years now.

From acting in a number of iconic roles, many of which are Western movies, to now directing Oscar-winning projects, Eastwood has evolved a lot in Hollywood. He first became popular after playing the “Man with No Name” in Sergio Leone’s “Dollars Trilogy.”

Clint Eastwood Treats People Like Horses

He also gets to work with his fair share of other iconic actors over the years. That includes people like Morgan Freeman and Eli Wallach. He’s got quite the reputation for his overall matter-of-fact and serious personality. It seems to result in some efficient and amazing working conditions.

Tom Hanks, who worked with Eastwood for “Sully” in 2016, once spoke out about what it’s like to work with the very intimidating director. The movie is about a man named Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger that safely lands an endangered plane in the Hudson River.

While they were promoting the movie, Hanks appeared on “The Graham Norton Show.” As it turns out, Eastwood is about as intimidating as you’d think the man who plays the “Man with No Name” would be.

“He treats his actors like horses because when he did the 60s series Rawhide, the director would shout ‘Action!’ and all the horses bolted. So when he’s in charge, he says in a really quiet, soft voice, ‘All right, go ahead,’ and instead of shouting ‘Cut!’ he says, ‘That’s enough of that.’ It’s intimidating as hell!” Hanks said during the interview.

His calming voice and demeanor stand out in a world where directors are always shouting out demands. It’s probably a bit refreshing but also equal parts terrifying.

Forest Whitaker once worked with Eastwood in the movie “Bird.”

The actor said in an interview with People, “He really believed in me. I had never done anything to justify taking on a role like that …”

Eastwood is a Pleasure to Work With

Clint Eastwood even impressed Tom Hanks with how he works with other actors. Hanks is known in the industry for being kind and good-hearted.

After working in the business for so long, Eastwood still has all the respect of the people that he’s worked alongside.

According to Buzzfeed, one person on Reddit who was friends with a video editor that worked with Eastwood spoke out about working alongside the “Cry Macho” star.

“He said most people come in with assistants and have general demands like food, coffee, room temperature, and with attitudes that others have to work around. Not Clint Eastwood. He drove himself in his own pickup and sat down with you to get the work done and was always nice,” the person noted.

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Clint Eastwood

Dirty Harry: 5 Ways He’s Clint Eastwood’s Best Character (& 5 Alternatives)

After starring in Don Siegel’s gritty police thriller Dirty Harry, Clint Eastwood reprised the title role of Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan in a grand total of four sequels, from Magnum Force to The Dead Pool. Callahan is arguably Eastwood’s greatest role, making full use of his strengths as an actor and giving him plenty of dramatic material to sink his teeth into, but there are a bunch of other close contenders.

The actor’s decades-long career has been lined with iconic characters. From Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns to his own directorial efforts, Eastwood has played a ton of roles that have come close to matching Callahan as a screen icon.

10. Dirty Harry Is The Best: He’s A Quintessential Antihero

Clint Eastwood is best utilized when he’s given less than perfect people to play. His gruff demeanor and icy stare are beautifully matched to antiheroes who do questionable things and try not to look back.

Harry Callahan is a quintessential antihero, breaking away from the police’s codes of conduct if they stand in the way of what he sees as the right course of action.

9. Alternative: Frankie Dunn

Although Million Dollar Baby was marketed as a female version of Rocky, it becomes a much more depressing affair after its midpoint twist in which its protagonist, budding boxer Maggie Fitzgerald, is disabled at the beginning of her promising career.

Clint Eastwood co-stars as Maggie’s trainer Frankie Dunn, who champions her through her first few fights and then has to contend with the heartache of her sudden paralysis.

8. Dirty Harry Is The Best: He’s Eastwood’s Darkest Character

The best acting plumbs the darkest depths of the human soul, from Martin Sheen’s turn as Captain Willard in Apocalypse Now to Al Pacino’s portrayal of the corruption of Michael Corleone in The Godfather trilogy.

Clint Eastwood is one of the world’s greatest actors in terms of playing dark roles. As a cop who will torture suspects without thinking twice, Harry Callahan is easily Eastwood’s darkest role.

7. Alternative: Josey Wales

The title role in The Outlaw Josey Wales is a challenging one, as he’s a farmer whose family is murdered by the Union during the Civil War who then joins a Confederate guerrilla army in pursuit of vengeance.

In addition to directing The Outlaw Josey Wales as a magnificent study of the Civil War, Eastwood starred as one of his most iconic characters.

6. Dirty Harry Is The Best: He’s Morally Complex

Unlike a lot of gun-toting detectives in Hollywood cinema, Harry Callahan isn’t depicted as a clear-cut hero. He’ll bend the law in order to catch a bad guy or he’ll feel justified in killing if he thinks it will prevent more killing.

The audience isn’t expected to be on Harry’s side at every turn, but the moral gray area in which he operates means he’s never anything less than compelling.

5. Alternative: Walt Kowalski

In Gran Torino, Eastwood stars as Walt Kowalski, a Korean War veteran who now lives in a neighborhood filled with Korean gangsters. As he’s caught in a gangland conflict, he confronts his own prejudices and makes the ultimate sacrifice in a harrowing finale.

The actor’s ice-cold glare was perfect for the role of Kowalski. He plays the role as a typical crotchety old neighbor, but with a dark side that’s as clear as day.

4. Dirty Harry Is The Best: He Has Most Of Eastwood’s Quotable Lines

Over the course of an incredible career that spans seven decades and counting, Clint Eastwood has uttered a ton of memorable lines on the big screen that have been quoted by fans ever since.

But the majority of his most beloved quotes belong to Harry Callahan, like “Go ahead, make my day,” “A man’s got to know his limitations,” and “You’ve gotta ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?”

3. Alternative: William Munny

Eastwood gave the perfect swansong to the outdated genre that spawned his career with the bleak revisionist western Unforgiven. Years after turning his back on a life of killing to lead a simple farming existence, William Munny is reluctantly recruited for one last gig as an outlaw.

The movie is a grisly tale of redemption as Munny strives to exact brutal vigilante justice, but it also takes every chance to remind viewers that he’s no hero.

2. Dirty Harry Is The Best: A Lot Of Eastwood’s Subsequent Roles Emulated Harry

After the success of Dirty Harry, the title character became Clint Eastwood’s defining role, to the point that many of his subsequent roles were written to emulate Harry’s blunt, unconventional style.

Eastwood had made his name as a cowboy in Italian westerns and playing an iconic detective on the streets of San Francisco ensured him a career in contemporary American thrillers.

1. Alternative: The Man With No Name

Between 1964 and 1966, Clint Eastwood teamed up with Sergio Leone to create three of the greatest westerns ever made. With A Fistful of Dollars, Leone recontextualized Kurosawa’s Yojimbo for the Wild West and pioneered the spaghetti western. With The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, he perfected the genre.

Across all three movies, Eastwood played the fabled Man with No Name, a gunslinging drifter who chases bounties and plays gangs against each other.

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Clint Eastwood

Why Clint Eastwood Only Acts In Movies He Directs (And When It Started)

Clint Eastwood has largely acted in movies that he was also directing throughout a large portion of his career – so why is this, and when did it start? He will forever be remembered for the Westerns he starred in, however, his directing career reads as a mightily impressive one. Even the films that he has directed but not appeared in, have also gone on to achieve incredible commercial and critical success. His latest western Cry Macho was released last year, and had Clint Eastwood starring, directing, and producing. But why does he only seem interested in appearing in movies that he directs himself?

Clint Eastwood found his way onto TV screens with his breakout role in Rawhide. He then went on to achieve incredible fame and success as ‘the Man with No Name’ in the legendary Dollars Trilogy, directed by none other than Sergio Leone. However, in 1971 he took up dual roles of being both in front and behind the camera in Play Misty for Me, and so marked the beginning of his incredible career in directing. From here on out, the Dirty Harry star was more interested in being the conductor of his own orchestra – to the extent that Eastwood literally even composed music for the soundtracks on many of his films.

Since then, Clint Eastwood never took his foot off the gas when it came to directing and his success in the area is plain to see. Prime examples of this are his four Academy Award wins, two each for Best Picture and Best Director for Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby respectively, as well as his two Best Actor nominations. Eastwood has never explained why he only acts in movies he directs, but it is clear to see it is a method that works for him – with this likely being the main reason his film efforts have taken this direction. While he had been self-directing for many years previous, the release of White Hunter Black Heart in 1990 marked the beginning of Clint Eastwood acting solely in films he was directing. From this point, he would only appear in front of the lens if he was also the man behind it.

Clint Eastwood had reportedly become frustrated with the atmosphere and pace of some film sets and wanted to create his own environment for making movies. He explained in his book Film Craft: Directing that “sets didn’t have to be nerve-wracking or bell-ringing or booby-trapped as it was with some“. So when Clint Eastwood directed his movies, he encouraged a “comfortable and calm environment on set” and kept the scenes moving. Many actors who have worked with him have said that most shots are done in one or two takes, which is astonishingly efficient – in fact, Eastwood is said to have taken over directing in the 1976 film The Outlaw Josey Wales because he believed it was being directed at too slow a pace.

At 91, it is of no surprise that Clint Eastwood’s movie career is at a point where he has decided that no one is going to tell him what to do besides himself. The exception to this came in 2012, when he starred in Trouble with the Curve – but that was the first project that he had acted in and not directed since his cameo appearance as himself in the 1995 film Casper. What movie Eastwood does next is anyone’s guess. Clint Eastwood has shown he is willing to work with directors in the not-so-distant past, but it’s evident that the actor is clearly someone who likes to work at his own pace – and with such a lengthy history in the industry, it makes sense he uses all his range of abilities to ensure this pace is set.

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